Ole Gunnar Solskjaer goes into denial mode ahead of Man Utd’s crunch derby clash

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has gone into denial mode ahead of Manchester United's crunch derby showdown with City at the Etihad.

United go into Sunday's top-of-the-table clash trailing leaders City by a whopping 14 points in the title race.

Solskjaer's men have won just two of their last seven league games to lose vital ground on Pep Guardiola's side in the battle to be crowned champions.

To make matters worse United have drawn their last three outings without even scoring a single goal to now find themselves in a desperate scrap just to secure a top-four finish.

But despite the alarming dip in form, Solskjaer claims United are still in good shape and have made progress since last season, when they finished 33 points behind champions and bitter rivals Liverpool.

Solskjaer, who will be without the injured Paul Pogba for the derby, said: "You'd like to win every game of football, but if you compare to last season, the position in, we are quite a bit higher up in the league at the same stage and still in Europe and the FA Cup.

"It's the league position you think 'that's where we've shown progress'. Hopefully we can prove in the Europa League and FA Cup that we've taken another further step for this team.

"The ambitions are there, we have more experience to be in this position compared to last season, we are gelling more as a team, we are fitter, so at the moment we're just looking at the short-term, Sunday, and that is to get back to creating chances, taking them and scoring goals again.

"Three weeks or four weeks ago we couldn't defend, then we were doing really well attacking wise, that was the narrative anyway – but now the narrative is we can't score a goal.

"It's not like we have gone six weeks with bad form. Not long ago we won 9-0 against Southampton, we won 4-0 against a (Real) Sociedad team that should have won against Real Madrid at the weekend.

"For me I'm not buying into the narrative we've had such a dip in form. Yes, we have not had that margin with us to score the first goal. Three 0-0s isn't us really, that is not what we set out to do, we have defended well but lacked that spark to create chances to score, but I don't buy that we are out of form."

Former Old Trafford favourite Dimitar Berbatov admits the time has come for United to "surrender" in their losing battle to win the title.

Berbatov believes United have dropped too many points to stand a realistic chance of overhauling their neighbours, who have reeled off a staggering 21 straight wins in all competitions.

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  • United were held to a disappointing goalless draw at Crystal Palace in midweek and speaking to Betfair, Berbatov said: "If you don't win your matches against smaller teams, with all due respect to Crystal Palace, then the gap gets bigger and bigger until the point where there is nothing else you can do but surrender your hopes of winning the title.

    "The match against Palace was a prime example. It doesn't matter how, United need to take three points from matches like that.

    "City have shown that they can do things like that. Look at the match against Wolves? City were 1-0 up then it went to 1-1 – where they continued to push and play their way and in the end they scored a few more goals and won.

    "These are the games that teams at the top need to win, but United are dropping unnecessary points – against Crystal Palace, West Brom and Sheffield Untied.

    "It's now a 14-point gap and it's too much, especially with the form City are in. It's impossible to catch them."

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